Jun 12 2012

Notes on Sol Niger

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Physical manifestations of a “black sun”

  1. The Eclipse – in some ways an illusion, but very “real” to early experiencers. In addition, when the sun’s direct light is blocked out, aren’t more harmful rays more prevalent? If I recall, this is part of why one isn’t supposed to look directly at an eclipse (though I always have). I should look into this, or check it on Snopes. Not to mention the juxtaposition of the lunar over the solar. If I use this as an illustration, I’m not going to go into the solar/masculine and lunar/feminine thing for three reasons:
    • First, I think assigning “gender” qualities to such things is counterproductive and distracting. There’s too much baggage associated with gender to even go there.
    • Second, I think Janet McCrickard has done a suitable job debunking the “universality” of these assignments, and the harm that these assignments can inflict.
    • Third, assigning gender to such things doesn’t get to the “true” nature of solar/lunar. I think Frank found a way to illustrate these concepts a lot more intriguingly than mere “gender”. I’m still not entirely convinced there isn’t a pre-rational evolutionary psychology angle to Frank’s explanations, but I like them well enough to use them at least metaphorically (in a nutshell, “solar” consciousness comes from the overpowering direct light of the sun, allowing us to see the physical world around us, where “lunar” consciousness allows us to see that there are many suns in the sky, many worlds, many ways of seeing things, etc. – I don’t know that either of these need be inherently “masculine” or “feminine”, hence my use of McCrickard).
  2. Black Holes – literally, a “black sun”… no light can escape, only occasional quantum particles. Immense gravitational pull, akin to the “dangers” of the black sun in alchemy. “Getting sucked into the darkness, never to emerge”. Both this and the eclipse will be used metaphorically and illustratively in my paper, but one of the reasons I’m curious about the whole “is it there because we look for it”/”do we look for it because it’s there” debate, is because of how well some metaphors work. If Archetypes are woven into the fabric of the cosmos (and I think we can safely say that per McCrickard, they may change, or not be entirely universal, or may -I suspect- have a bigger agenda than we truly know, then this could possibly tie in with all of that.


From Peter Lamborn Wilson’s Sacred Drift: Essays on the Margins of Islam, there’s this little tidbit –

“The Islamic profession of faith states ‘There is no god (la ilaha) except God (illa’Llah).’ Ayn al-Qozat explains that the unworthy will never reach beyond mere negation, the la (no), or attain the inner sanctum of illa’Llah. The guardian or chamberlain of this inner realm is none other than Iblis. Ayn al-Qozat makes his original contribution to Islamic satanology by symbolizing the chamberlainhood of Iblis with two powerful images: the Black Light, and the dark tresses of the Beloved.

‘Black Light’ again suggests the coincidentia oppositorum familiar to Western mystics and alchemists in such phrases as ‘the Sun at Midnight.’

Aziz ad-Din Nasafi (from the school of Ibn ‘Arabi) equates Iblis with “imagination”, (original word wahm (fancy), as opposed to khyyal, which is more often associated with “imaginal faculty”)

PLW says that the school sometimes used interchangeably, “for in truth, imagination…both dissipates and concentrates the faculty of remembrance, and seduces both to ‘sin and rebellion’ and to the vision of the divine-in-things.”

Per Ibn ‘Arabi, “without images, there can be no spiritual realization at all, for the undifferentiated oneness of the Real can be experienced only through its manifestation as (or in) the multiplicity of creation.

“Satan is the guardian of a threshold, as Ayn al-Qozat explained, and a doorway is an isthmus, a space-between-worlds, an ambiguous and liminal no-place-place, a land of imagination…It is the ‘shaitan’ in each of us which we must ‘convert to Islam,’ as the Prophet said. But the very means by which we carry out this self alchemy is presided over by that very same force, the power of our imagination, lit by paradoxical moonbeams of Black Light – Iblis himself.”

“In Persian Alchemy the two highest stages of transmutation are calledBlack Light (nur-i siyah) and Green/Gold. Some place one higher, somethe other, but the two can also be seen as manifestations of eachother. Black light is the nothingness that is also total luminescence,the dark side of god, Chaos & Old Night, the Sun at Midnight,presence of absence as light. Green/Gold (colors of the Prophet, and ofthe Philosopher’s Stone as “emerald in Egyptian Hermeticism) representthe other half of Hesiod’s first theogony, Eros and Gaia – Desire, andthe greenness of the living world. “And the three things of this worldare worthy of the gaze = water, green things and a beautiful face”(hadith). According to the Sufi, the Black Light is a beauty spot (moleor freckle) on that very face.” – Hakim Bey.


Living in the modern civilization as we do, we are never out of the reach of electric lights bleaching out the night. Put yourself in Layla’s Arabia, in the middle of the desert. On a moonless night, there is NOTHING. No dunes, no camels, nothing. Everything merges into the formless.

This represents the Unmanifest, the aspect of Allah that does not enter into creation. In relation to the world, God’s attribute al-Khaliq, the Creator, is masculine. But God’s reality is not exhausted by creating, and beyond creation there is the Unmanifest. The Divine Feminine that the Sufi poets address with women’s names . . . like Layla.

The “dark side”? In Sufism, the “darkness” of Layla does not come across as something nefarious or threatening. It can even be luminous-the experience of the “Black Light” (see Henry Corbin, The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism). Or like the “black shawl” of the Prophet . . .whom the Sufis sometimes call the “kali kamaliya vala” (the one wrapped in the black blanket) in their qawwalis. The Sufis also link this to the kamal posh. . .the prehistoric Sufis (a mystical brotherhood that existed from prehistory and served in the roles of teachers and divines). The Prophet’s prayer rug was also black, as was the first flag of Islam.

Layla, as used by the Sufis, means the power of love. It is the dark feminine that loves in equal measure, that returns love, that draws one out of oneself and into the hâl (ecstatic state) of love. She intoxicates, makes one indifferent to the world, singular of purpose, enfolds and yet retains her mystery, her hiddeness. . . her darkness. A single glimpse of her reality intoxicates (as when Majnun sank into the depths of love at a glance of her toes, revealed underneath the hem of her gown). – The Return of Lilith – A Sufi Perspective


“In the Sufi system of lights, the black light is considered one of the holiest of all. It is only revealed to the most accomplished masters, those who have vanished themselves in the process known as ‘fana’, annihilation of the ego. For millennia, shamans of every indigenous culture have described the horror of this process, one which is incomprehensible to those who have not been through it. This mystic death is nothing less than being torn apart in the night by God. There is ecstasy in being torn apart by God, but also pain that must be consented to. The agony of dismemberment, the darkness of Gethsemane, has to be accepted. As one Persian mystic said, “Without the Friday of the crucifixion, there would be no Sunday of the Resurrection.” Those are the terms. The mystic has to pass through the halls of death while in a body. Meister Eckhart said that “If you do not die before you die, you die when you die…(and) by aligning itself with God’s will, the soul takes on the taste of God: grief and joy, bitterness and sweetness, darkness and light, all become divine.”…Bursevi, the Sufi mystic, wrote of this state: This death must come about by resolution and he in whom this state of death appears will see the complete annihilation of everything but God..Nothing is left but the beauty of God.”
Dialogues with a Modern Mystic by Andrew Harvey and Mark Matousek


“I can see in the dark,” boasted Mullah Nasrudin one day in the teahouse.

“If that is so, why do we sometimes see you carrying a light through the streets?”

“Only to prevent other people from colliding with me.”


“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was agreat earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;” – Revelation 6:12

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